vulnerability, emotional wounds, and Jung!

Along the same lines, Stafford-Clarke (1983: 101) gives another medical definition of clinical depression:

‘Depressive illness is a combination of misery and malaise which occurs either spontaneously or exceeds in duration and intensity the normal reaction to any provocative disaster or misfortune. The misery tends to be compounded of guilt, anguish and despair; and the malaise of exhaustion, insomnia, constipation, headache and widespread bodily discomfort.’

Problems and challenges are presented when we attempt to define depression in relation to other experiences that might overlap with: anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, apathy, boredom, bereavement and meaninglessness. It is also interesting to note that although depression has existed long before medical science, it is currently defined medically but also appears to extent to further human areas: sociology, anthropology, philosophy and spirituality. And talking about these areas of thought and enquiry, Jung comes to mind!

Let’s explore the archetypal depiction of the ‘wounded healer’, while examining Carl Jung’s dimensions of one’s shadow and woundedness and looking closer at what woundedness might mean in terms of depression, wellbeing and being a therapist. Attempting to tune in with Jung’s mythical, spiritual and symbolic sense, I focus on two mythological figures that are generally acknowledged as representing physical and psychic aspects of the archetypal ‘wounded healer’: Chiron the centaur and Ulysses the traveller are introduced with their stories in light of relevant theory, while attempting an exploration of their symbolic, philosophical and experiential relevance to a psychotherapist’s feelings of woundedness. The very idea of a ‘wounded healer’ refers to the Jungian unity and polarisation between opposites, which appears in line with existential tensions and paradox, and echoes the ultimate backdrop of life and death.

Many words have been written about the wounded healer: the person who goes through suffering and as a result of that experience becomes a source of healing potential. According to Jung (1959a), such potential may include attributes like endurance, empathy, insightfulness or wisdom, paired together with an awareness of the therapist’s weaknesses. The archetypal wounded healer undergoes a transformation as a result of their wound, their suffering and pain (ibid). In the case of psychotherapy, Jungian ideas suggest that therapists have the potential of transcending their psychic wounds, and successfully leading themselves to a path of service for their clients (Whitmont, 1978). However, Jung (1989) also suggests that woundeness may also result in chronic unhappiness when one’s shadow takes over and one’s psychic wounds remain unhealed and unattended. In this light depression can be understood as the experience when one’s unattended wounds become overwhelming and paralysing.

Jung’s ideas are so interesting! Tbc …